Hey all, need some collective brain power to point me to the problem. I had a failed batch after many many years of successful brewing, and it has depressed me to the point of canceling my weekend plans to make a redemption brew.
I brewed up a pale ale last weekend, and when I took a sample last night it had a smell and taste that I would describe as old, musty, dirty, cardboardy. It’s like the grain I used had been sitting in a basement for 5 years, and had been occasionally stepped on. My instincts would tell me that describes a brew that is oxidized, but it perplexes me on why that happened.
Instead of getting in to the nitty gritty of my whole process, let me tell you what I did differently this time.
1)I created a yeast starter, but realized I couldn’t brew two weekends ago, so I had to save it for the following weekend. Starter was on the stir plate for 48 hours. After that time I put it in the fridge with tin foil on top with a rubber band holding it. Starter stayed in fridge for 6 days until brew day. On brew day, I took it out, decanted MOST of the starter liquid, and let warm up. When I was about to pitch I vigorously shook the starter since the yeast cake was nice and compact, and I needed to break it up. Pitched into wort at 72F.
2)I used a brand new tank of O2 to oxegenate the wort. It was the small red canister that you can get at home depot, that is used for a welding torch. Is there such thing as bad oxygen?
3)Fermentation took off over night, per usual, and in the morning the fermentation was still at 72F, even though I hoped it dropped to 70. I wanted it to primary at 70, so I decided to lower the temp on my fermentation fridge. This dropped the temp down to 68 over a couple days. I would have much preferred to pitch at the appropriate temp to avoid this, but I couldn’t get my wort down low enough at the time. One thought is the temperature drop could have screwed something up, but 68F is still well within the range of the yeast (1056 btw).
4)The yeast had pretty much completely dropped out at 3 days, pretty much after the temp drop took place. This is WAYY faster then usual, so my concern was that the fermentation got stuck and the yeast froze up and dropped out due to the temp drop… hence the desire to take a gravity reading on day 4. Gravity was at 1.010, so at the very least the brew attenuated fully, which also seems fast.
So I’m pretty bummed out. I may have to toss the batch if the problem cant be remedied, and I was really excited because this was my first time using Mosaic hops and experimenting with FWH. I may brew a batch tomorrow to make myself feel better, but I want to close the book if possible on this batch.
Any thoughts as to what caused the off flavors? The starter I pitched did have some starter wort that was heavily oxidized, but it seemed to be in small concentrations and I generally always use a little left over liquid to help break the yeast cake up (although I have never had the starter on the plate for longer than 24 hrs, and I have never stored a starter for later use).
Thanks for your help
P.S. My GUESS is that it tastes oxidized, but I’m open to other issues (contamination?) if someone has a better grasp on this.